Who got the opportunity to play against Rodrigo knows his potential as table tennis player. We would like to share this note with you. Congratulations to the Ecuadorian Team!
Top seeds Brazil, duly finished in first place in their initial stage group in the Men’s Team event at the 2004 ITTF-Latin American Championships in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on Tuesday 2nd April.
However, of the leading four names; they were alone.
Argentina, Venezuela and Chile, the next three in the pecking order, all suffered defeats; Puerto Rico, Mexico and Ecuador caused the upsets, all three remained unbeaten, as against the odds they upset the seeding.
Brian Afanador and Hector Berrios excelled for Puerto Rico, Marcos Madrid was imperious for Mexico; whilst Alberto Miño remained unbeaten for Ecuador; but the man of the moment was the latter’s colleague, Rodrigo Tapia.
Ecuador trailed Chile by two matches to one. Geovanny Coello had been beaten by Alejandro Rodriguez (11-5, 11-3, 11-7), Alberto Miño had levelled matters by overcoming Felipe Olivares (11-9, 13-11, 4-11, 11-9) but then the doubles had gone astray.
Geovanny Coello and Rodrigo Tapia had suffered a four games reverse at the hands of Manuel Moya and Alejandro Rodriguez (9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 12-10) and with Felipe Olivares, listed at over 300 players places higher than Rodrigo Tapia it seemed the contest had swung inexorably in favour of Chile.
Rodrigo Tapia had other ideas; against all expectations he beat Felipe Olivares in three straight games (11-9, 11-8, 11-4).
Great credit must go to Rodrigo Tapia for his play; equally great credit must go to the 19 year old for his behaviour. In the opening game, he led 10-7; the umpire awarded him the next point. Instantaneously, Rodrigo Tapia pointed to the table to explain there had been the very faintest of edges.
On the very next point, Rodrigo Tapia forced Felipe Olivares away from the table, top spin lob after top spin lob until eventually one return caught the edge of the table, un-returnable.
Immediately, as Rodrigo Tapia looked to the heavens, Rafael Armendariz, the Ecuador National Coach sitting courtside, called “Time Out”.
It was arguably the pivotal moment of the whole fixture. Rodrigo Tapia captured the next two games; the whole momentum of the match had changed.
“My coach told me I could win and that I must keep attacking”, explained Rodrigo Tapia. “He told me to serve short and spin the ball.” Rodrigo Tapia obeyed to the letter.
Proceedings in the contest level at two matches apiece, Alberto Miño faced Manuel Moya.
There is no player in the whole tournament who is mentally stronger than Alberto Miño, the young man I first met in 2006, when he only 15 years old and on duty for his country at the Liebherr World Team Championships in Bremen. He is the man you need when it is close.
He duly delivered the goods; he beat Manuel Moya in three straight games (11-3, 11-9, 11-8).
Ecuador celebrated and immediately secured first place in the group by overcoming the Costa Rican trio of Allan Calvo, Jeison Martinez and Gabriel Cascante.
Undoubtedly Rodrigo Tapia was the hero, Alberto Miño was the backbone; in the contest that saw Puerto Rico beat Argentina by three matches to two, it was the same scenario. Hector Barrios was the hero, Brian Afanador was the mainstay.
Brian Afanador gave Puerto Rico the perfect start by beating Gaston Alto in a close five games contest (11-5, 11-8, 12-14, 10-12, 11-8); he concluded matters by overcoming Rodrigo Gilabert in four games to seal the victory (11-3, 8-11, 11-5, 11-5).
Two wins from Brian Afanador but in the second match of the contest Daniel Gonzalez had suffered defeat against Pablo Tabachnik (6-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-9) and the doubles had gone astray. Rodrigo Gilabert and Gaston Alto had overcome Hector Berrios and Daniel Gonzalez by the very narrowest of five games margins (11-5, 10-12, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9).
“Yes, no question, the win by Hector was absolutely vital”, reflected Eladio Afanador, the coach of the Puerto Rican Men’s Team and father of Brian. “Last year at the same stage Hector lost to Pablo and we lost the match; today to win, tremendous, I am so pleased.”
Puerto Rico now face Peru to determine first place in the group; earlier in the day with Gaston Alto, Pablo Tabachnik and Rodrigo Gilabert in action, Argentina had beaten the Peruvian trio of Joan Chavez, Diego Rodriguez and Julio Li by three matches to nil
Two dramatic wins, two dramatic upsets; the victory posted by Mexico over Venezuela did not possess the drama but it was an upset.
Venezuela made the better start with Marco Navas beating Salvador Uribe (11-7, 12-10, 11-7) but that was the end of the South American country’s success.
Marcos Madrid accounted for Marcos Rosas (11-5, 13-11, 11-5), before Salvador Uribe returned to the fray to join Daniel Perez in doubles contest. They overcame Luis Diaz and Marco Navas (11-5, 11-3, 11-5); thus setting the stage for Daniel Perez to secure the verdict; he obliged but only just. He beat Marcos Rosas in a tense five games encounter by the very narrowest of margins (13-11, 11-13, 11-7, 5-11, 13-11).
Success and they completed the opening day in style. Andres Avila replaced Luis Diaz in the line-up with a resounding three-nil win being posted against Uruguay’s Santiago Kacowicz, Mateo Wetzner and Gonzalo Lorenzotti.
Meanwhile in the Women’s Team event, Colombia and Chile, the respective third and fourth seeds, followed the suit of the two listed outfits, Brazil and Puerto Rico, who had duly topped their groups.
Colombia with Paula Medina, Cory Tella and Lady Ruano on duty overcame the Argentine trio of Ana Codina, Maia Harima and Camila Arguelles by three matches to nil; whilst Chile recorded a three-one win over Peru to bring their first phase matches to a conclusion.
Mainstay of the Chilean victory was Paulina Vega. She beat Andrea Guzman (11-5, 11-2, 11-9) and Gabriela Soto (11-8, 11-6, 7-11, 12-10), with the one further success being secured by Katherine Low. In the second match of the fixture, she recovered from a two games to nil deficit to beat Angela Mori (6-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-6).
The one win for Peru came in the doubles; Angela Mori and Gabriela Soto overcame Katherine Low and Judith Morales in seven games (11-9, 8-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-8).
Play in the Team events concludes on Wednesday 2nd April.